Tag:2011 WC Playoffs
Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:22 am
Edited on: April 25, 2011 1:36 am

Chris Paul: 'I'd hit my mama too' interview video

New Orleans point guard Chris Paul jokes that he would hit his mother if she was on the court playing against him after he led the Hornets to a Game 4 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Posted by Ben Golliver.

What a ridiculous night for New Orleans All-Star point guard Chris Paul. He crossed up Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant hard. He led the Hornets to a huge Game 4 win over the Lakers to even the series at two games apiece by dropping a line that hasn't been put up in the last 20 postseasons: 27 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists.

When it all was all said and done though, Paul played the role of stand-up comedian in his post-game interview. Asked by TNT's Cheryl Miller about his back-and-forth with Bryant on the court, which included a hard foul on a Bryant lay-up attempt, Paul let loose with a punchline that's sure to be repeated ad nauseam over the next few days. 

"He'd do me the same way," Paul said. "You know, it's all in fun but this is our livelihood. I don't care if my mama was out on the court I'd hit her too." 

Here's the video.

Mrs. Paul wasn't CP3's only foil in this clip. Teammate Trevor Ariza snuck up behind Paul to give him a bear hug from behind, which Paul greeted with a "pause" on national television before carrying on with the interview like nothing happened.

One way or another, politically correct or not, this guy was non-stop entertainment on Sunday night.
Posted on: April 25, 2011 12:22 am
Edited on: April 25, 2011 1:32 am

Kobe Bryant on crutches after spraining ankle

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant injured his left ankle against the New Orleans Hornets in Game 4. Posted by Ben Golliver.

During the closing minutes of Game 4 against New Orleans, Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant tweaked his left ankle while defending Hornets guard Willie Green.

Bryant, who had battled left ankle problems earlier this season, appeaered to badly roll his left ankle as Green attacked the paint. Bryant's momentum carried him into Green and he was whistled for a foul. After consulting with Lakers coach Phil Jackson and the team's training staff, Bryant re-entered the game and finished out the stretch.

The Hornets pulled out the Game 4 win, 93-88.

Following the game, Yahoo! Sports reported: "Kobe has crutches and lakers say they're considering MRI on injured ankle. Kobe acknowledged concern about what he called a left foot, not ankle, injury but expects to play in Game 5."

The Orange County Register added: "The Lakers likely will have Bryant undergo an MRI exam and X-ray Monday. They are calling it a sprained ankle for now."

Here's video of the injury. 

More details on Bryant's condition as they become available.
Posted on: April 24, 2011 11:26 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 11:33 pm

Chris Paul crosses up Kobe Bryant video

New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul hit Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant with a mean crossover during Game 4 of their Western Conference playoff series. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Just before halftime of Game 4 between the New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Lakers, Hornets point guard Chris Paul added Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to his crossover victims list, nailing him with a vicious left-to-right cross at the top of the key before getting to the basket to finish an uncontested lay-up. 

Paul methodically dribbled near the three-point line, setting Bryant up with a behind-the-back dribble from his right to the left. As Bryant leaned in, Paul unleashed the beast, crossing back over to his strong hand and leaving Bryant in cement shoes. A few power steps and Paul was near the rim, where he kissed in the lay-up as he crashed into the baseline crowd.

Here's a look at the video.

The obvious comparison is Allen Iverson's immortal crossover of Michael Jordan, in which he set it up with a similar back-and-forth rocking motion. Bryant was left grasping at air just like Jordan was, although Iverson settled for hitting a pull-up jumper rather than attacking the basket. 

In case you haven't watched an NBA game in the last 15 years, here's video of Iverson working Jordan courtesy of YouTube user vanessama.

Iverson's cross is seen as a stepping stone in Jordan's aging process and the heralding of a new generation of players. Paul's doesn't carry that kind of weight. Bryant is still near the top of his game, and the Lakers remain atop of the NBA. 

Still, sick.
Posted on: April 24, 2011 2:48 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 3:05 pm

Series Reset: How much do the Lakers care?

We reset the Hornets-Lakers series with Game 4 set to tip Sunday night. Posted by Ben Golliver. 

The Narrative: 

We've learned a few things through the first three games of this series. First, Los Angeles has a clear, readily-exploitable size advantage over New Orleans, a gap so significant that the Hornets have no available adjustments. They just have to hope that Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum (preferably both) decide not to dominate. Second, the Hornets need a monster night from Chris Paul to create an environment for their role players to succeed. If Paul isn't going off, the other Hornets wings haven't proven capable of generating their own offense on a consistent basis. Third, we've learned that Los Angeles approaches these games with varying degrees of intensity. 

In Game 1, the Lakers were surprised by an all-round gem from Paul and were too stunned to recover. In Games 2 and 3, they committed more energy and thought on the defensive end, and New Orleans looked like it was drowning. Game 4, then, comes down to how focused the Lakers decide to be. They've regained home court advantage in the series, and could easily treat this as a coast game. New Orleans, on the other hand, clearly sees this as a must-win. Will that gap in motivation be enough to overcome L.A.'s talent gap? Or will the Lakers handle this one professionally so they can close this thing down in Game 5 at Staples Center? 

The Hook: 

Chris Paul has been lauded for years for his competitiveness, and rightfully so. After going for 33 points and 14 assists in Game 1, he's been limited to 20 and nine in Game 2, then 22 and eight in Game 3. Those numbers are still solid but, unfortunately, insufficient. As a team, the Hornets scored just 78 points in Game 2 and 86 points in Game 3. Paul's output (scoring plus assists) represents roughly half of their offense in both contests. New Orleans simply needs more from him. Game 4 will be a referendum on Paul's ability as a one-man show. Yes, he'll get some help from Carl Landry, who has steadily produced 17.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in this series. Landry only has the potential to hold his match-up even, though. Paul has the ability and raw to make match-ups irrelevant. He'll need to be gigantic if New Orleans wants to have a chance to play another home game in this series. 

The Adjustment: 

"Shoot the ball better" might not qualify as an adjustment, but it's a change that's necessary for the Hornets, who hit just two of their 13 shots from outside in Game 3. When you're as badly outmatched in the interior as the Hornets are, the best remedy is to space the floor well, put your shooters in their high-efficiency areas and move the ball quickly to find open shots. Then, of course, knock them down. If New Orleans can get hot from outside, the Lakers will likely turn to a slightly smaller lineup to compensate and that could make life a little easier on the glass for the Hornets. But if those shots aren't falling? Same old story. 

The X-Factor: 

Before Game 3 we tried to pin New Orleans' hope on either Willie Green or Jarrett Jack, but the combination promptly went out and combined to shoot 1-10 and score just two points in the loss. Rather than repeat that mistake, let's just say that ANY Hornets player under 6'7" not named Chris Paul needs to score in volume in Game 4. Whether that's Marco Belinelli making up for his 1-7 shooting from outside, Trevor Ariza shocking everyone with some nice scoring output or Green and/or Jack finally deciding to show up, the Hornets need a third weapon to complement Paul and Landry. And, to offset Kobe Bryant, who outscored Paul, Belinelli, Green and Jack combined in Game 3. 

The Sticking Point: 

Even if New Orleans does everything right -- competes on the boards, knocks down their outside shots, gets a huge night from Paul -- there's still the Kobe Bryant factor to contend with. Bryant hit for 30 in Game 3, including some back-breaking three-pointers that kept New Orleans at bay. His individual performance forces the Hornets to commit so much defensive attention to him that life for Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher is just that much easier. All three of those guys shot 50% or better from the field in Game 3 and should have plenty of clean looks in Game 4 as well. It's a pick-your-poison type of situation for the Hornets, who we know won't go down without a fight. 

Still, this one is far less about their effort level and far more about L.A.'s. If the Lakers show up, this series will be entering its final chapter. 
Posted on: April 23, 2011 9:45 pm
Edited on: April 23, 2011 10:29 pm

NBA Playoffs: Blazers, Mavs react to Game 4

Posted by EOB staff

Player reactions from the Blazers' epic 23-point comeback/Mavericks' epic 23-point collapse in Game 4 of the Portland-Dallas first round series. Brandon Roy scores 18 in the fourth quarter to lead the Trail Blazers back and tie the series 2-2. 

Blazer quotes courtesy of our own Ben Golliver

What he said: "Tonight was the Brandon Roy of old. He took the game on his shoulders." -- Nate McMillan 
What he meant: "And by Brandon Roy of old, I mean Brandon Roy of three years ago. And I say shoulders because 'took the game on his knees' sounds bad." 
What he said: "Brandon doesn't talk much, but you could see it in his eyes. He was going to control this game." -- Nate McMillan
What he meant: "And it's a good thing he did, because had he not done so, it would have been the saddest thing ever. Also, when I say he doesn't talk much, I mean he doesn't talk unless he's telling reporters he wants more playing time."
What he said: "That's the greatest comeback I've ever seen." -- Rich Cho
What he meant: "That's the greatest comeback I've ever seen." (Seriously, we agree with him, how are we going to snark on that?)
What he said: "It still just doesn't feel real yet." -- Brandon Roy
What he meant:  "But I bet it feels pretty real to the Mavericks!" 
What he said: "I'm not playing to be the old Brandon Roy or to change someone's opinion of me. Just to play." -- Brandon Roy
What he meant: "See? I told you! I told you! What did I say? What did I say?! Ahem... I mean, it was a good game. Team effort."

What he said: " We feel like the pressure is off of us right now ... Our confidence is high." -- Wesley Matthews
What he meant: "It's hard to feel pressured when you see the other team de-evolving into primordial ooze. We're pretty confident Rick Carlisle's broken heart is still on the floor, in pieces." 
What he said: "We believe in him, we believe in B. Roy." -- Nicolas Batum
What he meant: "Nobody mention how the believing thing worked out for Harvey Dent." 

What he said: "B. Roy, you're an All-Star, a 3-time All-Star. Take the ball. They can't stop you. You just have to believe in yourself." -- Nicolas Batum
What he meant: "The Mavericks couldn't stop you with entire Texas border patrol."

Mavericks quotes courtesy of ESPN Dallas

What he said: "We just couldn't get any stops. That's what the thing came down to. It's on us. Really starting at the end of the third we had a 20-point lead and they had a couple of layups there. We didn't run back in transition. Just gradually we couldn't get any stops. " -- Dirk Nowitzki
What he meant: "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go eat glass and not read, watch, or listen to any communication device for the next two days." 
What he said: "We let our guard down in the fourth quarter. We let one dude who didn't do anything the whole game beat us." -- Tyson Chandler
What he meant: "We got beat by a guy with no meniscus who shouldn't even be playing according to some doctors. This isn't the bottom, but you can see it from here."
What he said: "We can’t do that, man. This ain’t home court. This [arena] is rowdy as hell in here. You’ve got to know that. The crowd was quiet [when the Mavs were up 23], and this is one of the loudest arenas I’ve ever played in. They knew it. They could smell it. And we just quietly let the crowd get back into it and let [Portland] get back into it." -- Shawn Marion
What he meant: "Have you BEEN to Portland?!"
What he said: "That's what happens." -- Shawn Marion
What he meant: "It just did." 
Posted on: April 23, 2011 1:11 am
Edited on: April 23, 2011 1:31 am

Series Reset: Another must-win for Portland

After taking a must-win Game 3, the Trail Blazers need to do it again in Game 4 to even their series with the Dallas Mavericks. Posted by Ben Golliver.


The Narrative: 

With the backs against the wall, The Portland Trail Blazers managed to hold off the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3. The Blazers overcame a hot night from Jason Terry thanks to an insane first half from Wesley Matthews, steady production from LaMarcus Aldridge and an energy boost from Brandon Roy, who made Portland's first significant contributions off the bench in the series. Roy's 16 points put to rest an emotional 72 hours, and left Roy looking relieved and perhaps rejuvenated.

The only problem for Portland? They rely heavily on their home crowd, and therefore need to get up for Game 4 as if it's another must-win. Should Dallas take a 3-1 series lead back to Texas -- where Portland didn't win in the regular season and struggled down the stretch in Games 1 and 2 -- this one would be all but over.

The Hook: 

Statistically, the two teams were virtually even in Game 3, save Portland's dominance in turnover differential, where the Blazers forced 16 turnovers and cashed them in for 16 points. Portland had trouble generating enough offense to keep pace with Dirk Nowitzki and company in the series' first two games. By limiting Dallas's possessions and knocking down shots in transition, the Blazers solved that problem.

Many of Dallas's turnovers were mental errors, though, and those aren't particularly likely to happen again in such volume in Game 4. That will put added pressure on Portland's defense to get stops down the stretch. Game 4 could easily hinge on whether or not the Blazers are able to sustain their defensive energy late into the game.

The Adjustment: 

The strategic and match-up adjustments figure to be minor by this point in the series, although one player will certainly need to make some changes: Tyson Chandler. Much to the dismay of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the Dallas coaching staff, the central spoke of their team defense was only able to stay on the court for 15 minutes before fouling out in Game 3. Chandler was dinged with cheap calls almost as soon as he stepped on the court, and, multiple times, he was visibly upset during the game. Smartly, though, he no-commented after the game. Setting moving high screens was a specific problem area that should be fairly easily eliminated, but the Blazers figure to feed LaMarcus Aldridge early and often. Chandler will need to respond with textbook defense, as the boisterous Rose Garden crowd is known for its ability to lean on officials. Brendan Haywood doesn't stand much chance in this series, so Chandler's ability to stay on the floor is critical.

The X-Factor: 

While various role players have stepped up for both teams through three games -- Roy and Peja Stojakovic being the two prime examples -- Game 4 goes back to the superstars, especially Dirk Nowitzki. The big German has been pretty unstoppable in all three games, but he left some points on the table on Thursday, shooting 10-21, and uncharacteristically missing three free throws. Aldridge has drawn primary defensive responsibility on him and he's done a nice job, but Nowitzki can certainly exploit Portland's other defenders to a greater degree than he did in Game 3. He also figures to get to the free throw line more than seven times in Game 4. 

The Sticking Point: 

In his post-game comments Thursday, Nowitzki said he felt like the Mavericks had taken Portland's best shot without being phased. He may very well be right, as Portland will need some serious luck if they hope to repeat their 8-14 performance from deep. The Blazers are a band of streak shooters and, finally, they were hitting. Wesley Matthews seemingly couldn't miss in the first half; knocking down four early three-pointers to get Portland's home crowd going, and helping push the Blazers to an early lead. 

Dallas will surely adjust to that success by crowding and harassing Matthews as much as possible, and if you take away Matthews' huge night, Portland's shooting numbers fall back to earth pretty quickly. Someone else will need to step up -- Roy or forward Nicolas Batum -- to stretch the floor and create room for Aldridge and forward Gerald Wallace. If not, the Blazers risk reverting to their struggles in Games 1 and 2. 
Posted on: April 23, 2011 12:42 am
Edited on: April 23, 2011 12:58 am

NBA Playoffs: Lakers restore order over Hornets

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night to take a 2-1 series lead and regain home court advantage. Posted by Ben Golliver.


The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Hornets, 100-86, in a Friday night game that played out exactly like pre-series expectations dictated. On offense and defense, both teams played according to form ... bad news for the plucky Hornets who must play way over their heads to keep up with the Lakers. 

Lakers Offense

In Friday's Series Reset, we made the fairly obvious prediction that Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant would make a major return to form after an off-night in Game 2. It happened. Bryant scored 30 points on 10-20 shooting, soloing a bit too much, but still hitting a wide variety of circus shots and more than half of his three-point attempts. Trevor Ariza put up a game fight, but Bryant got where he needed to get, including the free throw line, where he hit a number of second half shots that helped stave off any late Hornets push.

Pau Gasol got off to a bit of a slow start but he fought through the war of attrition, tallying 17 points and 10 rebounds and surprising everyone in the building by knocking down a corner three. The force of his fist pump afterwards revealed the level of frustration he'd been feeling throughout the series to this point. More than anything, Gasol just out-worked his struggles. He hit the glass hard, especially on the offensive end, and played a nice two-man game with Andrew Bynum, who was also a force with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Hornets Offense

There's nothing here for them to hang their heads about, but the non-existent bench did them in once again. In the reset, we talked about the importance of either Willie Green or Jarrett Jack stepping up. The pair combined for two points on 1-10 shooting. The Hornets' starters simply can't play five-on-eight against the deeper Lakers.

Meanwhile, Chris Paul was very good, but not otherworldly. And, in this series, very good simply won't cut it. His 22 points, eight assists and five rebounds made life easier for everyone around him, but all five Hornets starters finished at -10 or less for the game while all five Lakers starters finished +11 or greater. That's a fairly straightforward butt-kicking, and it was one that Paul, who was paid plenty of attention again, was hopeless to overcome.

Lakers Defense

L.A. did a nice job of containing Paul again, but more than anything they simply played a fundamentally sound strategic game. They didn't allow the Hornets out in transition for easy baskets. They did a decide job of clearing the defensive glass. 

And, most importantly, they took their chances with the Hornets' role players beating them from outside. The Hornets are merely an average three-point shooting team, and the 1-7 from deep by Marco Belinelli killed New Orleans' offensive efficiency. No one else really tried to bomb from deep. 

Hornets Defense

As in Game 2, Emeka Okafor and Carl Landry tried to stand up to the Lakers' bigs, but with little effect. The Okafor/Landry pair actually outscored Bynum/Gasol, 38-31, boosted in part by Landry's 11-12 from the free throw line. The numbers are a bit deceptive, though, as Lamar Odom chipped in 13 points and the Lakers' bigs combined to shoot 17-32 despite Gasol's early struggles. 

Bynum was a wrecking ball early, scoring around the rim at will and tossing in a beauty of a lefty jump hook. He had 12 points in the first 18 minutes, and that was pretty much that. 

L.A.'s length and depth, along with Bryant's attack, made the difference on Friday night. In other words, the Lakers firmly restored order after slipping up in Game 1.
Posted on: April 22, 2011 6:05 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 6:21 pm

Series Reset: Can the Lakers regain home court?

We reset the Hornets-Lakers series with Game 3 set to tip Friday night. Posted by Ben Golliver.


The Narrative:

The Los Angeles Lakers showed up on Wednesday, evening their first round playoff series with the upstart, over-achieving New Orleans Hornets at one game apiece. The way Game 2 unfolded is how most thought this series would play out, with the Lakers pounding the ball to center Andrew Bynum and the Hornets helpless to stop him. Contributions from Ron Artest and Lamar Odom made up for off nights from Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, which goes to show the gap in talent between the two sides. L.A.'s top two players can have off nights -- a combined 5-20 shooting and 19 points -- yet the Lakers can still roll fairly easily. On the flip side, if Chris Paul isn't excellent, the Hornets don't have a chance. 

Despite that talent gap, the Hornets stole homecourt advantage in Game 1 and now it's incumbent upon them to protect it as the series shifts to New Orleans for Games 3 and 4.

The Hook:

Game 3 has all the makings for a frustrated and vengeful Kobe Bryant -- bent on making amends for his Game 2 performance -- looking to set the tone early. The Lakers used Bryant and a host of other defenders against Paul in Game 2. The extra attention limited Paul to 20 points and nine assists, numbers that Lakers coach would be thrilled to see again in Game 3.

Aside from Bryant's impact on both ends, look for some force-feeding to Gasol as well. The Lakers can't afford to continue to get marginal production from their talented big man. The undersized, but strong, Carl Landry has played him well and scored on the other end; It's time for Gasol to take back ownership of that match-up.

The Adjustment:

Andrew Bynum fouled out in Game 2, but not before playing 32 minutes, shooting 8-11, putting up a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double. In the process, he looked like the NBA's second best center. The big adjustment here is whether the officials will treat him differently on the road. How often do we see aggressive big men hampered by early whistles in road playoff games? How often do we see them respond with frustration rather than precision? Keeping Bynum on the floor and actively engaged will be crucial for L.A. to take back the home court.

The X-Factor:

After being held to under 80 points in Game 2, it's incumbent upon New Orleans' role players to provide an additional scoring punch. One guy to watch is guard Willie Green, who took just six shots in 12 minutes and wasn't much of a factor. If not Green, then Jarrett Jack, who was big in Game 1. Unfortunately for New Orleans, both Green and Jack had better scoring numbers on the road than at home this season, and neither got loose in any of the Hornets' four regular season losses to the Lakers. That could be a problem.

The Sticking Point:

The Achilles heel for New Orleans in Game 2 was their defensive rebounding, as the Lakers grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and won the battle of the boards overall, 44-36. There's really no easy solution other than five-man effort on the glass, given the personnel available to them. L.A. brought the effort on the offensive glass in Game 2, something they don't always do consistently. Both Games 1 and 2 were played at New Orleans' preferred slow pace, but second-chance opportunities and extended possessions ruin that comfort zone in a heartbeat. If I'm Hornets coach Monty Williams, I'm drilling the "keep our boards clean" point home during the pre-game talk.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com